posted on September 13, 2009 08:44
Cois Fharraige Day Two (live in Kilkee, Co. Clare)
Review Snapshot: There were thousands of people walking around Kilkee on Saturday sporting the latest in surf fashion but in the water at Lahinch, Spanish Point and Doonbeg you could count the surfers on two hands. Meanwhile back at the festival, The Hold Steady, Noah and The
Whale and Newton Faulkner served up some savage musical entertainment
The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10
The Hold Steady
Looking like the cast of Seinfeld decided to form a band, the anxious nerd rock of The Hold Steady proved the perfect antidote to the mellow
sunlit vibes that have blessed the festival thus far, with ‘Stay Positive’ being a crowd highlight. The band’s hard chugging sound and neuroses laced lyrics were an unusual counterpoint to a festival that, thus far, has aimed for a balance between very serious rock and music that you can drink to. If you are the sort of person who curses the sunshine and stays indoors with a book by Albert Camus then this may just be your kind of band.
Noah & The Whale
The opportunity to see Noah and The Whale perform live versions of tracks from their new album, ‘The First Days of Spring’ which the Sunday Times has described as a ‘masterpiece’, was a bona fide must see for this reviewer but for anyone expecting a game of throw the inflatable chair around the crowd to ‘Five Years Time’ then this set would have been a bit of a surprise. The band walked onstage with the confident gait that musicians adopt when they realise they may have produced an album to match ‘Astral Weeks’ or ‘Transformer’ and then, dour to the point of uncommunicative, proceeded to play the highlights of, ‘The First Days of Spring’, their only nod to their audience being to tell us their name.
Given the emotional punch and musical delicacy of Noah and The Whale’s music, I’m not sure the party atmosphere of the Big Top at Kilkee was the best forum to for this performance, the audience only engaging with them to sing along with their hit single ‘Five Years Time [Sun, Sun, Sun], but for this reviewer at least ‘Blue Skies’ was a highlight and I can imagine people who spent the day drinking down by the beach later claiming that they were here for this gig, tough if you weren’t.
Based on the love shown to the dreadlocked Faulkner when he appeared on stage, it looks like the Irish are going to do for him what they have previously done for Chris Rea, David Gray and Josh Ritter. Mixing new tracks from his new, as yet unreleased album ‘Rebuilt by Humans’,
with favourites from his hit debut ‘Hand built by Robots’, Faulkner was clearly playing to a crowd that knew and loved his work.
Supporting himself with a variety of unusual musical instruments such as a cassette tape player and a keyboard that he played with his feet,
Faulkner’s guitar style owes more to Bobby McFerrin and Stanley Jordan then it does the standard white bloke with an acoustic guitar. It is
also fortunate that Faulkner is an excellent showman, whipping the crowd up at one point with a routine in which he asked them to imagine
themselves as a crew of pirates suffering from rabies, on a ship headed to shore, to confront their arch enemies the barbarian hordes. Having said that, Faulkner’s self penned material to date does not match the quality of his brilliant reworking of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ which affords him the perfect vehicle to showcase his musical abilities.